Response: The Barnard Project

Today, December 3, at 2 pm, I attended a show at New York Live Arts, formerly Dance Theater Workshop, featuring choreography by David Parker, Ivy Baldwin, Susan Rethorst, and Sidra Bell: “The Barnard Project.” It was a professional choreography showcase featuring many Barnard dance students.

The first piece, entitled “E Pluribus” and choreographed by David Parker, featured twelve dancers clad in gaudy shades of yellow. The music was an eclectic variety—including some from La Bayadere, some sacred-sounding music in Latin, an American folk song, and “Downtown” by Tony Hatch. In this piece they made a lot of sounds with their bare feet, including by tap dancing. It had its cute moments and its funny moments, but they didn’t come until later on. The beginning was honestly pretty boring. The dancers walked around, thumping the ground once in a while with a heel or their toes, doing small movements in a repetitive pattern. They didn’t walk well, though. They weren’t strong modern walks in the style of Graham or Taylor, and they weren’t ballet walks. They were some awkward kind of in-between thing, and unfortunately I don’t think it was on purpose. It just seemed like none of the dancers knew how to walk well.

Next was a piece by Ivy Baldwin, called “Howl.” I hated the costumes for this. I sort of thought they were supposed to be of a conservative, housewife, Fall-ish theme, but even that is kind of broad and doesn’t describe much of anything. This dance featured a lot of wiggling, jiggling, wagging, waving, gyrating, convulsing, percolating, and shaking. A lot of the moves looked like things I would do (actually things I probably have done at some point) for fun. I was mostly interested and entertained during this piece, although I felt it was lacking in formations, patterns, unison, and other factors that tend to bring a piece together and make it whole. And I didn’t like one of the dancers. I didn’t think she was holding her center. If I weren’t a dancer, it probably wouldn’t bother me, but I can tell, so I was bothered.

After intermission was “Jazz out of Water,” a piece by Susan Rethorst in collaboration with the dancers. Maybe collaborating with the dancers wasn’t a good idea. During this piece, I leaned over to Devon at one point and informed her that I was going to slit my wrists. The piece was mostly in silence, except for the few times a few bars of some dull jazz music played and then faded back out. I don’t remember anything cool or interesting from this piece, and in fact it was the first time I’ve ever watched a show and thought, man, I wish they would do an arabesque or a pirouette or something! It was all just slowly walking, and moving arms, and sitting on the ground, and then not sitting on the ground, and I don’t even remember because I was staring into space. I was awoken a couple times by the strobe-like stage lighting that served no other discernable purpose than to remind the audience that people were dancing. I clapped because this piece was over.

Last was Sidra Bell’s work “Mass Observation.” The dancers began by coming down the audience stairs in a line on each side. They faced the stage and moved their arms like drones. I almost got poked in the eye by a gloved finger. I wasn’t sure where to look, because there were two dancers onstage, but there were also dancers next to me, and what if I was supposed to watch them? Were they important? Leda calls this “making the audience watch a tennis match,” because your head goes back and forth from one place to another. There was a lot of that in this piece, and in the show in general. Ultimately I decided on the dancers who were on the stage, because if I turned my head to the right I was looking at a man’s shiny American Apparel copper leggings-clad butt. American Apparel should have been paying royalties to this show, for the amount of their clothes the dancers wore. (And as a side note, they should have cut the tags from the leggings. The tags gave everyone a weird lump in the middle of their backsides.)

I liked this last piece best of all of them (which isn’t saying much!), because at least they moved sometimes. There was still a lot of foot stomping, arm gesticulating, and wiggling—the theme of the show—but out of all the pieces, I felt this one had the most instances of interesting movement. I didn’t “get” it; was it about a shiny-butt fierce runway diva drone army from outer space? But I was impressed by many of the dancers and I felt that this choreography showcased them the best. For the most part, though, the mood of the piece just made me feel nervous.

The dancers who were in this show are probably great, well-trained, talented dancers, but I couldn’t tell you that for certain, because all I saw them do was meaningless movement that didn’t require much technique. Not that a lot of it wasn’t interesting, or innovative, but I think in order for me to enjoy a show, it has to be a mixture of things I recognize and things that are new and surprising and interesting. Or, maybe it can all be new and weird and different, but well-organized and executed. It’s hard to pinpoint, but whatever the golden combination is, this show was lacking part of it. When I see a dance show, I like to feel something. I like it when I have an emotional response to the dancing that lasts with me long after the show is over. I didn’t get that from The Barnard Project.


Dance Review: Morphoses, “The Bacchae”

The “Plot Synopsis” of Morphoses’s “The Bacchae” doesn’t help at all. In fact, one might be better off not reading it and just enjoying the show as an abstract exploration of sound and stage elements. Or trying to enjoy it, anyway; one of the patrons in front of me whispered to the other while there was dancing, “do you want to go?” And the one next to me discreetly checked the time on her cell phone.

“The Bacchae," at the Joyce October 25-30, is a 50-minute piece with no intermission choreographed and designed by new Resident Artistic Director Luca Veggetti and directed by Director and Co-founder (the other one, Christopher Wheeldon, left in 2010) Lourdes Lopez. It features 11 dancers with severe hairstyles in sleek, mock-turtleneck leotards in navy and burgundy, and stiff pants with a tinsel-like sheen or, alternately, shorts with the brand logo visible from the cheap seats. And socks—whose relevance will be disclosed shortly.

The stage is lined with three silky backdrops which flutter interestingly in the background but cause for really awkward entrances and exits; the dancers have to scoot underneath the fabric, as there are no openings. The original music and sound design (this term is probably more apt) by Paolo Aralla, while interesting to be sure, frequently startles the audience with sudden loud pings and raps. It is supplemented by a live flutist, Erin Lesser, whom I found distracting when I saw the show, because I was focused on whether she was actually playing her instruments or miming. (She was playing.)

A puppeteer, Candice Burridge, opens the show with a little wooden person whom we never see again after that. Then there is a group number in which the dancers’ impeccable technical training is on display. They have perfect, effortless control of their bodies, almost like robots. At one point these dancers stay in impressively precise and tight formation as they walk and quickly switch direction.

The pas de deux sections in “The Bacchae” are worth the price of admission. There are unimaginable, inventive lifts performed seamlessly and with visible ease. They don’t even look like lifts; they look like a continuation of one move magically into the air and back down again without any hoisting or grunting or heave-ho. I came to the logical conclusion that all the men in this company have Herculean strength and that all the women are the size and weight of underage Chinese Olympic gymnasts. The partnering is really that brilliant.

But unfortunately, watching “The Bacchae,” you may feel nothing. I felt nothing. Rather, I felt like I was waiting for something noteworthy to happen, and then I felt impatient, and then I felt annoyed. The problem with this piece is that it’s trying too hard to be something—to be a little of everything. The puppet; the live instruments onstage; the voice of God or whatever it’s supposed to be; the guy who comes into the audience to speak one line; the lip syncing (yes I said lip syncing); the sticks that were whipped around (in my head I told the dancers, you better not let go of that f***ing thing); the utilization of the Joyce’s brick wall in the background (been done); the embarrassingly Forsythe-ian influence (this is where the aforementioned socks come in).

The choreography for the solos danced by Frances Chiaverini and Gabrielle Lamb makes them look spastic, and it might as well be improvisational because there isn’t a single move that either one of them does that seems deliberate, meaningful, or necessary. I understand that some people like this sort of style, but I was awfully bored. It’s the type of dance that never stops; the dancer is always putting some limb somewhere or moving in some inventive new way, and no shape ever stops to register, and nothing appears to have any feeling or emotion behind it. Granted, I’m sure it’s difficult to dance like that, but in the end what is the point?

In fact, most of the movement was like that. It was all perfect, but none of it meant anything to me. It’s a good thing this show ends with the seriously impressive partnering so I didn’t have to leave with a bad taste in my mouth.


"Who Owns My Heart" Video Response

I think I'm prettier than Miley Cyrus. Just for the record. I felt like saying that.

Anyway, this is more tolerable than most of the music she's ever made before, in my opinion. I think it's because it sounds like every other catchy dance song on the radio that you ignore. Oh well, that's a step up from the rest of her stuff, which makes me grind my teeth and my eyeballs pop out with disdain.

Also, I believe in her wardrobe and makeup crews. The bitch is fucking ugly, but the head wrap on the bathtub look is cool, and the big hair/ nude lipstick look is pretty well done as well. Hope whoever's in charge of that is making bank, because they rock at their job if they can make Miley Cyrus look anything other than fugly.



Anyone else see the barely-disguised subtext in this ad by Dove?

Before: fat, Black.
After: thin, white.

Buy our product because it will make you go from undesirable ("Before") to desirable ("After")! Just look at that gradient.

Not impressed, Dove.


White Eyeliner Off the Runway

After seeing the recent runway trend of white eyeliner in Marie Claire and Nylon, I decided to have a go at it.


And myself ...

I think if a white liquid eyeliner exists that would provide a more opaque line, the effect would be more dramatic. I just used a crappy Wet & Wild pencil, layered thickly.

Can I rock it? Maybe for a very special, funky occasion ... but as for everyday, the jury's still out.


New Far East Movement Video.

The newly premiered Far East Movement music video for their single "So What?" features barely-clothed (and I do mean barely; one of the swimsuits is just short of some sort of S&M lingerie) models rubbing themselves with Pepto Bismol and dancing on a stove.

... Yeah, a stove.

What the FUCK are they trying to say here? That women should get naked and get their hot bare asses back into the kitchen? Because look, it's so much fun! Cooking is a fucking sexy party every day! Your job as a female is to be a hot ass and make me some toast (see video re:toast).

I used to dig FEM because 1) Asians making waves in pop culture is exciting, 2) "Like A G6" is catchy, and 3) "Rocketeer" is kind of sweet (short video).

I think the band is trying to appeal to not only the club/dance/hip hop music scene, which they definitely are with the naked chicks and the swagger, but to a KPop fan base as well. If you've looked at a T.O.P. video lately ("Turn It Up"), you'll notice Korea getting raunchier with their vids. Which of course I think is Korea trying to be more like America. Vicious fucking cycle.

Anyway, I'm not impressed, Far East Movement. More like offended.



It helps (somewhat) to have watched all the preceding uploads, but even without doing so ...


"College Dance and the 'Real World'"

Congratulations to me: I've just been published by the awesome internet magazine the-vu.com!

My article examines university dance programs' graduates' preparedness for what we refer to as "the real world." It would not have been possible to write without the kindness of my interviewees during a stressful time in their lives. I am totally stoked to be published. You can read it here.


American Apparel Published Me!

My photo has been published by American Apparel! I am a paid, published model now, and it feels super cool.


Thanks Michael ...


If/Then Dance Premiere Rehearsal Video

Show this Friday in the Olmsted Theater
Adelphi University
7:30 p.m.
Free Admission (suggested donation)


"His death drew sharp criticism from animal activists, who had complained for years that Berlin Zoo officials should not have hand-reared the cub after his mother abandoned him in 2006."

Remember this post I put up about the baby monkey abandoned by its mother only to be adopted and nursed by a zoo, and how I mused about the ethics of that?

Read about the sudden, sort of tragic death of the popular polar bear Knut at the above link.


Doug Varone’s “Chapters” Like a Novel You Can’t Put Down

by Natalie Walters

The 20 emotive and aptly titled “chapters” that comprise Doug Varone’s Chapters from a Broken Novel at the Joyce until Sunday feel, to an audience member, like one’s own biography. Skillfully danced to an original, cinematic-sounding score by David Van Tieghem, Chapters takes the viewer through an emotional landscape to which dancers and non-dancers alike can relate.

Varone’s loose but purposeful and clean style was exhibited from the beginning, with signature arm slashes and backward reaching ball-changes on display in the first chapter, Spilling the Contents. A beautiful falling-and-getting-back-up-again themed solo, Another Failure, danced by the mesmerizing Natalie Desch, immediately followed. Her frustration, so expertly choreographed as to be credible, was palpable. Her facial expression read as true, and even her grunts of distress seemed to come from a real place. But when she emoted it was not—and this holds true in general for Varone and Dancers—melodramatic.

Varone has a great sense of where the line between the realistic and the overly theatrical rests. There were two dances where this was particularly true: Erased by Degrees and Ron Tells the Truth. It speaks of Doug Varone’s Dancers’ performance skill that they evoke such empathy from the audience as they do with these dances. Erased has the power to put your stomach in knots and your shoulders up to your ears as you watch Erin Owen react to in-your-face-attacks by her fellow dancers. But I have never seen anything so captivating and honest as Ryan Corriston’s internal struggle with Truth. He shook his head, clapped his hands over his mouth, even audibly sucked in his breath. He bit his knuckles, and turned beet red, fighting impulses. This chapter displayed Varone’s genius and Corriston’s talent melding into something heart-wrenchingly real, to which any human watching it would unavoidably relate.

But Varone also knows how to manipulate this theatrical line, to provide the evening with a little comic relief. In sharp contrast with the tension of Erased, Tile Riot let us into an intimate bathroom self-celebration by Owen. In it, she admired herself in the mirror, toward the audience, putting on lipstick and primping. She did a little dance, seducing the imagined mirror. It was endearing, and Owen was adorable—and highly versatile, having also played the role of the trodden-upon earlier in the show.

Some chapters were admittedly less memorable than others. Repeated Routines, for instance, was exactly what it sounds like, as was Rewind. Often the group dances became a bit blurred; pieces like these sometimes felt like filler for the more specific chapters like Erased by Degrees and Ron Tells the Truth, where individual dancers shone. Though always skillfully danced and beautiful and interesting to watch, sometimes during group pieces the Varone Dancers’ tendency toward a narrow, inward focus with the eyes shut out the audience somewhat. They seemed very conscious of each other’s presences, but this did not always include the audience in the way the soloists did.

Doug Varone and Dancers are especially good at bringing concepts to reality through dance. Some of the chapters’ titles cannot be danced literally, but somehow they made perfect sense, and title and the movement were one and the same. You don’t know what The Ghosts of Insects look like until you’ve seen it danced by Varone’s Dancers. The musical score played a role in this that can’t be ignored, but the choreography worked with, rather than relied on, the sound. The music for Glass was reminiscent of glass breaking, but even so, there was a sense of shards cutting through the bond between Netta Yerushalmy and Ryan Corriston, and their movements were sharp like broken glass. Each time he pushed or flicked her away it was like a piece of glass falling from a cracked window.

Varone has a signature style, which often has the appearance of being loose and organic, but his technically well-trained dancers move cleanly, precisely, and unaffectedly within this style. Combined with the minimalist set of a white curtain by Andrew Lieberman and light play by Jane Cox, it allows for Varone’s artwork and the choreography to speak for itself, through the tightly knit cooperative of dancers that comprise his company. The result is raw and beautiful.


This article highlights the plight of baby spider monkey Estela, who was "shunned" by her mother monkey.

The zookeepers are nursing to health a baby monkey which was rejected by its mother, until they determine she has the strength to be released back into the monkey enclosure.

... which would not happen in nature. I know it's hard to take, because it's so cute and so tiny and so ... so ... abandoned, but this monkey was supposed to die. It's a weird thing that humans do: they assume that they are above nature, and that what they believe is "good" is what is good, regardless of the nature of monkeys.

Estela is a pet now, and to pretend otherwise only speaks of humans' disconnect and poorly thought out good intentions.

I mean, the monkeys are already in cages at the zoo, which is a far cry from a natural habitat, but it annoys me to see photos of zookeepers "caring" for the animal when by caging them they aren't caring for them in the first place.


"Love the Guy, Hate the Ring"

You know, this sort of pisses me off. I'm reading this article in the February 2011 issue of Marie Claire by this title, and the whole idea of it rubs me the wrong way.

The article is about "heirloom rings," and how no woman wants your great-grandma's engagement ring, and that it's ugly.

I have so many gripes and suggestions about this that I'll just make a list:

1) Marriage is not about the ring.
2) If your boyfriend doesn't know you well enough to know you will "hate the ring," maybe you should hold off.
3) If you don't have the kind of relationship with your boyfriend where it would be cool to ask him if you can put it in a different setting, maybe you should hold off.
4) Wait, why do you hate the hand-me-down ring? It's rich with his family's history. And you are entering this family history. If this bothers you, you should probably not be engaging him.
5) Who cares if you really like the ring?

This article goes really hand-in-hand, I think, with an advertisement I saw in Elle:

"You only get married for the first time once"

I think this all plays into why I don't want to get married. I see it as an outmoded, irrelevant ritual whose meaning has all but disappeared over the centuries. The ring is supposed to stand for something, which, judging by popular culture, it doesn't anymore.

I mean obviously, there are those couples following the rules, including the whole "death do us part" thing (parents being one of those couples), but I think it has very little to do with the ring. Some people just actually mean their promises.

Maybe if marriage was less about the dress, the ring, the color scheme, the cake, the bridal registry, I'd be more into it. But as long as women's media portrays it as such, I'm cool with just having a boyfriend for life, ring be damned.


DIY Crop Bustier

I was very recently considering donating this bustier-style top I've had since high school:

Until yesterday, when an awesome coincidence happened. I was reading Nylon magazine, and there was a page full of trendy bustier tops:

So of course I pulled out my scissors and hacked off the bottom of my shirt, and sewed (hand-stitched!!!) it thusly:

And, voila! It's back in my closet, in this form:

How to be Nylon Magazine trendy on a college student budget.